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Full text of "A Study in Literary Genealogy"

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December, 1906]. 



MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. 



245 



noticed that in the dramatis personm, and again 
in the dialogue itself, Weisse has misinterpreted 
the cobbler's name, Zekel Jobsen, and has it read 
" Jobs Zekell." Many of the English puns, and 
much of the word-play Weisse has not, of course, 
been able to reproduce in the German text, but 
occasionally he has made up for this by intro- 
ducing a German pun, which is as good (or bad !) 
as the English original. We find an instance of 
this in the passage where the cook asks his new 
mistress (the disguised cobbler's wife) what she 
will have for breakfast, remarking : " Es ist auch 
noch ein Stuck gebratener Kapaun iibrig." 
" Nein, nein," says the ignorant peasant in her 
innocence, "Karthauen esse ich nicht !" Another 
device which Weisse uses to enliven the humor of 
his translation is plenty of "stage business." A 
case in point is found in the scene from which I have 
just quoted where the cobbler's wife ends her con- 
versation with the cook by saying, "I will take 
whatever you please, Mr. Cook," and Weisse 
adds the stage direction, " Kellner (geht ab und 
wiederholt im Gehen immer die Worte :) Herr 
Kellner, Herr Kellner I" Much of Weisse' s 
translation is a very free rendering of the English 
phraseology, even when there appears to be no 
necessity for it. We can understand, to be sure, 
how the translator might prefer to render the par- 
ticular term "popish cur" by the more general 
" Schlingel." But it seems as though Weisse has 
gone a long way out of his path in translating the 
phrase " I am a true English heart " by "Ich bin 
ein ehrlicher alter Degenknopf ! " 

Much of the popularity of Der Teufel ist Los 
was due to the genuine folk songs contained 
therein, some of them being translations, while 
others, such as the extremely popular "Ohne 
Lieb und ohne Wein," are German to the core. 
It was the combination of folk song and folk life, 
however, in Der Teufel ist Los that made it the 
favorite of the German people, and at the same 
time drew upon it the wrath of Gottsched and led 
thereby to the downfall of his school. 3 Such in 
brief is the history of Der Teufel ist Los. 



Prineeton, N. J. 



Alfred E. Eichakds. 



3 See Minor, Lousing' s Jugendfreumde (Kurschners Deutsche 
National-Litteratur, vol. 72, pp. xx-xxii). Also Minor, 
Christian Felix Weisse und seine Beziehungen zur deutschen 
Literatur des achtzehnten Jahrhunderis, Innsbruck, 1880, and 
Scherer's Geschichte der deutschen Literatur, pp. 409 seq. 



A STUDY IN LITERARY GENEALOGY. 

To make a statement of plagiarism is a danger- 
ous thing. Tennyson writing to a friend on the 
subject said: ' ' Parallelisms must always recur. 
Why not ? Are there not human eyes all over the 
world looking at the same objects and must there 
not consequently be coincidences of thought and 
impression and expression." And he quotes a 
Chinese friend who had found ' ' two lines of his, 
almost word for word, in an old untranslated 
Chinese poem." Everyone whose book -lore is at 
all diversified or varied knows the truth of this 
assertion. Thus in one day's reading the present 
writer has noticed the suggestive likeness between 
Longfellow's simile of the snow bridegroom in 
Evangeline, and his friend Hawthorne's The 
Snow Image. Or more verbally the k\vBwv 6Wi}s 
trv/jufiopas of the last lines of the Oedipus Bex 
recalls Hamlet's "sea of troubles," a quotation 
that Lowell might have included in his abortive 
attempt to prove Shakespere's Classical knowledge. 
Though coincidences of this kind may be merely 
chance, there are certain similarities that are more 
than that ; they are frank imitation, or, if you 
will — plagiarism. 

Everyone has read Voltaire's famous Zadig and 
and everyone remembers the amusing tale, Le 
chien et le eheval. This tale has often been cited 
as the initial example of that ratiocinative method 
that Poe first applied to the detective story. But 
as a matter of fact this story is very old and it has 
quite a varied history. 

Briefly Voltaire says : As Zadig is walking 
near a small wood he meets the king's head hunts- 
man who asks him whether he has seen the king's 
horse that has escaped from one of the grooms. 
"It is," replied Zadig, "the horse that has the 
best stride ; it is just five feet high, has a very 
small hoof, a tail three and a half feet long, etc." 
"Which way did he go?" asks the huntsman. 
" I have not seen him at all," replies Zadig, " and 
I never heard of him before. ' ' They immediately 
conclude that Zadig has stolen the horse and arrest 
him. Scarcely has his sentence been passed when 
the horse is recovered. Much surprise is expressed 
at Zadig' s discernment and be is questioned on it. 
' ' While walking in the woods I noticed the prints 
of a horse at equal distances : there, I said, is a 
horse that has a perfect pace. The dust on the 
trees along the trail was brushed off just seven feet 



246 



MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. 



[Vol. xxi, No. 8. 



in expanse. Therefore, the horse had a tail ex- 
actly three feet and a half long." 

The apparent genesis of Voltaire's story occurs 
in a slightly different form in one Chevalier de 
Mailly's Voyage et Aventures des trois Princes de 
Sarendip, which appeared in 1719 — twenty-eight 
years before Zadig. 

The three princes starting out on their journey 
encounter a camel driver who has lost one of his 
herd. They have noticed the tracks of such an 
animal, though not seen him, and when asked by 
the driver if they know of his whereabouts, the 
eldest replies, was he not blind? the second, did 
he not have a tooth out? the third, was he not 
lame? The camel driver assents with delight to 
the questions and continues on his way rejoicing. 
Not finding his camel, however, he returns and 
accuses them of bantering with him. "To prove 
that what we say is so, ' ' said the eldest, ' ' your 
camel carried butter on one side and honey on 
the other." The second, "And a lady rode 
the camel," etc. In the same manner they are 
arrested for theft and sentenced. And in the 
same manner the camel is refound and an expla- 
nation is given. ' ' I judged that the camel was 
blind because I noticed that on one side of the 
road all the grass was gnawed down, while the 
other side which was far better was untouched. 
Therefore, I inferred that he had but one eye else 
he would not have left the good to eat the poor 
grass." "I found in the road mouthfuls of half 
chewed herbage the size of a tooth of just such an 
animal," etc. 

This book of De Mailly's, which contains still 
more deductions of the same nature is directly 
transcribed from an otherwise unknown Italian 
writer, Christoforo Armeno. His Peregrinaggio 
di ire giovanni figliovoli del re di Sarendippo, of 
which but three copies are extant, was printed at 
Venice in 1557, with the papal permit dated 
1555. It was translated into German in 1583, 
and into French as early as 1610. Strange to say 
the work through De Mailly's version was Eng- 
lished twenty-four years before Voltaire's story, 
while other renderings in Dutch and Danish 
existed. 

The title page of De Mailly's work reads Traduit 
du Penan, and the original, dalla Persiana nell'I- 
taliana lingua trapportato. But no direct counter- 



part of Christoforo' s work has been found. All of 
the stories, however, can be traced to various 
oriental sources and it is likely that his book was 
merely a collection of diverse tales. This par- 
ticular episode of the lost camel is the oldest in 
the volume. It is found in nearly all the eastern 
languages — Arabian, Persian, Turkish, Indian, 
Hebrew, — with slight variations. 

The earliest apparent source is the tract Synhe- 
drin of the Babylonian Talmud (c. 200). This 
is the Hebrew version : 

Two Jewish prisoners as they are led along say 
to one another : ' ■ The camel that is ahead of us 
is blind, besides he carries two leather bottles, one 
containing wine, the other oil, of his two conduc- 
tors, one is a Jew, the other a pagan." "How 
do you know that ? ' ' questions their master. ' ' He 
is blind because he grazes on one side of the way 
only. Parallel to his tracks are little bubbles on 
the surface of the earth — oil, and another liquid 
that has sunk into the ground — wine. A little 
later they declare that their lord is son of a dan- 
seuse, that the meat has the tang of a dog and the 
wine of death. On investigation, it is discovered 
that the lamb which they had eaten was nourished 
by a bitch, that the grapevine had grown on a 
tomb. 

This story with unimportant changes, such as 
salt and honey for wine and oil, that the camel is 
lame instead of blind is found in no less than 
eleven Oriental tales. It is thought by some to 
be of Sanskrit derivation and is given an alle- 
gorical meaning by Hebrew scholars. 

Probably from these occidental sources the tale 
came into Europe. Donatus, in his fictitious life 
of Vergil (c. 400 ?), relates that Vergil asserted 
that a horse newly presented to the king was 
reared by an ass and that his majesty was the son 
of a baker. Interesting to note a reasoning of 
much the same kind occurs in the story of Hamlet 
in the third book of the Historia Daniea of Saxo 
Grammaticus (d. 1204), where Amleth deduces 
that the wheat from which the bread is made grew 
on a battlefield, that the lard is tainted with death, 
that the queen is a wench. An almost exact coun- 
terpart of this is found in Christoforo' s book and 
it has a great similarity to the Talmud quoted 
above. The story recurs also in an Italian novel 
of Giovanni Sercambi. It is a curious fact that 



December, 1906.] 



MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. 



247 



Voltaire's changing of the dromedary to a horse 
also had a precedent. In the Maase Buch (1600) 
a collection of Judea- German stories, three broth- 
ers meet a Jew who has lost his horse. ' ' Was he 
not white?" asked one. "And blind too?" 
the other. "Besides he bore two casks, one of 
oil the other of vinegar ? " 

Doubtless M. de Voltaire would have been as 
much surprised to find such an imposing ancestry 
for his tale as the writer was, but at all events it 
is quite apparent that he got his idea from De 
Mailly's translation of Christoforo, or possibly 
from some of the rarer ones before him. 



Leon Fbasek. 



Columbia University. 



SHAKESPEARE, Oth. 3. 4. 74. 

On the lines, 

And it was dyed in mummy, which the skilful 
Conserved of maidens' hearts, 

Steevens has (Shakespeare Variorum of 1813) : 
'The balsamick liquor running from mummies, 
was formerly celebrated for its anti-epileptick vir- 
tues. We are now wise enough to know, that 
the qualities ascribed to it are all imaginary ; and 
yet this fanciful medicine still holds a place in the 
principal shops where drugs are sold. So, in The 
Bird in a Cage [1. 1 ; Dyce's ed. 2. 382], by 
Shirley, 1633 : 

" — Make mummy of my flesh, and sell me to the apothe- 
caries." 

Again, in The Honest Lawyer, 1616 : 

" That I might tear their flesh in mammocks, raise 
My losses, from their carcases turn'd mummy." 

'Mummy, however, is still much coveted by 
painters, as a transparent brown colour that 
throws a warmth into their shadows. . . . 

' So, in the Microeosmos of John Davies of Here- 
ford, 4to. 1605 : 

" — Mummy made of the mere hart of love." ' 

The ' witches' mummy ' of Macb. 4. 1. 23 has 
no note in this edition. 

Subsequent commentators on the Shakespearean 
passages are rather meagre in quotation, if we may 



judge by the Furness Variorum. The following 
collocation of passages may therefore be welcome 
to students : 

Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, Glasgow, 1904, 
5. 336 (The Pilgrimage to Mecca, ca. 1580) : 
' Out of one of these [Pyramids near Cairo] are 
dayly digged the bodies of auncient men, not rotten 
but all whole, the cause whereof is the qualitie of 
the Egyptian soil, which will not consume the 
flesh of men, but rather dry and harden the same, 
and so always conserveth it.' 

lb. 6. 26 (Wm. Barret, in a list of goods for 
trading, writing from Aleppo, 1584) : ' Momia 
from the great Cayro.' 

Du Bartas, Divine Weekes (1579, 1605-6), 2. 
1. 1. 254 (Grosart 1. 101), emphasizing the 
medicinal qualities of the Tree of Life, compares 
it with nectar, ambrosia, the fruits of the Hes- 
perides, moly, nepenthe, and elixir, but also with 
mummy : 

Or Mummie ? or Elixir (that excels) ? . . . 

Bacon, Nat. History 980 ( Works, ed. Sped- 
ding, Ellis, and Heath, 2. 665) : 'Mummy hath 
great force in stanching blood ; which, as it may 
be ascribed to the mixture of balms that are glu- 
tinous, so it may also partake of a secret propriety 
in that the blood draweth man's flesh.' 

Webster, White Devil (1612) 1. 1 : 

Your followers 
Haue swallowed you like mummia, and, being sick 
With such unnatural and horrid physic, 
Vomit you up i' the kennel. . . . 

Thomas Randolph, The Muses' Looking Glass 
(written before March, 1634-5) 3. 1 (Randolph, 
Poems, 1652, p. 39 of Muses' Looking Glass ; 
Dodsley, Old Plays, ed. of 1780, 9. 214 ; ed. of 
1825, 9. 182) : 

'But I'll have one [tomb] 
In which I'll lie embalmed with myrrh and cassia, 
And richer unguents than the Egyptian kings ; 
And all that this my precious tomb may furnish 
The land with mummy [old spelling, Mummie]. . .' 

Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia (1658), ed. 
Evans, London, 1893, p. 81 (= Works, ed. 
Wilkin, 3. 494) : ' The -Egyptian Mummies, 
which Cambyces or time hath spared, avarice now 
consumeth. Mummie is become Merchandise, 
Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for 
balsoms. '